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Merkurrani Plateau

Volcano Huts (Þórsmörk, Iceland)

July 29th, 2019

2.8 miles
510 vertical feet
Total Time: 2:01

Starting elevation
261 feet
Max elevation
544 feet

Rating: 9/10

Directions: Recommend taking a bus from Reykjavik to the Volcano Huts (Húsadalur).   View Driving Map



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GPX File

This is a loop hike, so you can start in either direction. We walked to the trail sign next to the tent camping area. At first we started down the dirt road, but after going for a minute or two decided to turn around and go back over the single track.

We followed the green posts past the sauna through the forest (!). We saw mushrooms next to the trail as it climbed slightly. There's a fork to the right which leads to a cave. We briefly took it but stopped at the base of the cave (it's a steep scramble over boulders to enter the cave, so we decided not to go further), then retraced our steps and continued the climb.

A rare Icelandic forest

Cave

We saw several mushrooms along the forested part of the trail

We started to hear pounding sounds as the trail started to climb steeply. We emerged from the forest and saw the source of the pounding: a couple of trail workers building a set of wooden stairs. The stairs were already functional for the most part, and we passed them and admired the view from the top of the stairs. Looking back over what we just climbed, we could see the valley below and the mountains behind them. We could still see the glacier to the right, as well. Steam appears to come out of the base of the mountains on the other side, I'm assuming signs of geothermal activity.

Markarfljot river valley, with Volcano huts visible near the bottom

Mýrdalsjökull glacier

We continued climbing through brushland, soon seeing Valahnúkur rising above us. We reached a plateau from which we could fairly easily have climbed up to the top (and we saw several day hikers going to the top from another trail), but decided to skip it.

If I had to do it again, I probably would have gone to the top of Valahnúkur, but instead we turned right onto a large plateau which provided tremendous views of the Krossa river valley and the Eyjafjallajökull glacier above it. A waterfall formed off the edge of one part of the glacier. Hard to believe, but I'm guessing the views from Valahnúkur are even better.

Markarfljot river valley

Valahnúkur

Eyjafjallajökull glacier

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

Valahnúkur overlooking the Kross river valley

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

Valahnúkur

Valahnúkur panoramic
(Click image to view full size)

We continued now slightly downhill across the plateau above the Krossa and Markarfljot river valleys, soaking up the views. We pretty much had the trail to ourselves the whole time, other than the construction workers. Also, for once on this trip it was sunny and no wind to speak of.

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

Krossa river valley

Meeting of the Krossa and Markarfljot river valleys

Eyjafjallajökull

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

Krossa river valley

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

Markarfljot river valley panoramic
(Click image to view full size)

We took a snack break at the top before continuing the descent. At the bottom, we turned right and continued a steeper descent through an open forest to the Markarfljot river valley. From there, we turned right and followed dirt roads and trail posts to return to the Volcano huts.

Markarfljot river valley

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

Markarfljot river valley

Krossa river valley and Eyjafjallajökull

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